The tracks of National Rail’s tears

To the meme generation he was simply known as the Airplane Mode Prince, but it seems nobody has taken the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh quite as hard as National Rail.

Users of the website woke up on Monday 12 April to find its HTML had grieved itself into grayscale, running roughshod over every accessibility guideline in the book to take its heartache out on the visually impaired.

The event added to an already worrisome trend of institutions marking a royal death by depriving the public of fundamental elements of the things they ordinarily provide. One Twitter user responded to National Rail’s monochrome announcement with the question, “Did the Duke hate colour?”, just days after another inquired what had happened to the airwaves: “Why are Radio 1 playing just the instrumental versions of songs this afternoon, did Prince Philip not like words?

But while the Queen once curiously claimed we owe her husband a debt greater than we’ll ever know, it’s now very clear the monarchy only survives with the permission of the likes of National Rail and the BBC. She should be thanking them in advance for taking the mournful technological impediments up a notch when she dies, because it’s obviously going to hit our digital services harder than any April Fools’ Day or Millennium Bug could ever dream of.

We can at least report that the National Rail Enquiries website has since returned to a palette every bit as blue as the late consort’s devilish sense of humour, and surely we can all agree that’s in far better keeping with the word perhaps used to describe Prince Philip’s character the most: raci colourful.

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